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SGA to create housing information database through student survey

SGA to create housing information database through student survey

SGA to create housing information database through student survey
January 16
10:00 2020

Following a student survey released last month, the Student Government Association will compile student ratings for on- and off-campus housing, as well as legal information, to help students make better-informed decisions when they search for housing, SGA’s Strategic Planning Director Brightyn Patterson said.

SGA took inspiration from the University of Minnesota’s program “Break Up with Your Landlord.” Patterson said after she felt taken advantage of and ill-informed when renting an apartment. She thought a similar program would benefit students. 

“I had a very bad experience with my apartment last year,” Patterson said. “Of course, you hear all the bad reviews once you move in. I talked about it with other people and when I got this position, I realized it’s a huge problem and this happens to a lot of people.”

Students have expressed issues including unfair landlords, mold, cockroaches and poor living conditions. Patterson wants students to have accurate information before they sign their lease.

“For so long it’s been normalized that you go to college and get a crappy apartment,” Patterson said. “It shouldn’t be like that. We’re paying a lot of money and people are using loans to live here. It’s a lot of money, so you should be able to know your rights and know what you’re entitled to.”

With ratings coming directly from other students, Patterson said the database will serve as a more trustworthy source of information for students and will hold apartments accountable.

“Google reviews aren’t very fair and a lot of the time, it’s landlords bumping up the ratings,” Patterson said. “There are apartment guides on campus, but … [apartments] have to buy in to be a part of that guide, so there are no checks and balances for who is in there.”

The survey, which will close on Jan. 17, has already received 1,200 responses detailing student opinion on matters such as the condition of the unit upon move-in, the responsiveness of landlords and maintenance and their overall satisfaction with their renting experience.

“We have a lot of responses so we know it is important to students already,” Patterson said. “A lot of them are negative, and of course, this isn’t supposed to just highlight what apartments are doing wrong — there have been a lot commending and especially on campus, there have been a lot of pleasing responses, so it’s really refreshing to see that.”

Linguistics junior Crystal Moulden said she wishes she had something similar when she was looking for housing.

“I’m really looking forward to the publication of the database,” Moulden said. “I ended up in a bad apartment situation that I think could have been avoided had this existed at the time.”

Fashion design junior Sophie Astronoto and her roommate have been looking for an apartment to live in next year. Astronoto said while she might not need it, the database could be beneficial to students.

“Having to consider locations, rates and the apartment’s reputation was challenging,” Astronoto said. “But for the most part, it was easy to settle on in the end. I don’t see [the database] having a huge impact on decision making because we already have access to that information, but it would be nice to have it all in one place.”

Despite her limited time at UNT, Patterson said she hopes future members of SGA continue to release an annual survey so students can have up-to-date housing information.

“I’ll leave it in my transition materials for the next person that has my position and when we meet with the next administration, we’ll make sure they’re aware that this is a big deal,” Patterson said. “So we’ll make sure that [it is] implemented and ensure that people know how important it is. I think it will continually be updated every year.”

Featured Illustration: Jeselle Farias

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Brooke Colombo

Brooke Colombo

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